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Starred Review. Though born out of the "world of gonzo," rife with indignation, agitation, cynicism and a "biting urge to revolt," this book delivers such a soulful commentary that it could just as easily be called "Judaism Unplugged." Like musicians who return to the roots of their profession and play without electronica, Rabbi Goldstein, founding rabbi of the New Shul in Manhattan, reminds readers—whether they are new seekers or lapsed practitioners of Judaism—to confirm their knowledge of the "nuts and bolts" of their tradition before wistfully seeking the mystical. "Judaism, when presented in its best and most authentic light, doesn't coddle—it confronts," he says. Similarly, the rabbi pulls no punches, but manages to do so with the easy style of a coffeehouse conversation. Using a combination of Jewish history and personal anecdotes, he offers a wide range of alternative ways to explore Judaism individually or in small groups, if large congregations are not appealing. The extensive resource list that includes congregations, organizations and recommended reading promises to serve readers of all ages. With this edgy, funny, wise book, Goldstein may just have found a way to ensure the survival of the religion for another 6,000 years. (Sept.)[See the July 12 issue of Religion BookLine for an interview with Rabbi Goldstein.]
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"Goldstein backs up the title ['Gonzo Judaism'] with a legitimately creative and irreverent idea about how to engage with Judaism anew: Look to the old....This is clearly one promising rabbi: He has equal knowledge of (and appreciation for) both ancient tradition and contemporary life." -- The Washington Post Book World, October 1, 2006
"Rabbi Goldstein has written a 'Fear and Loathing on the Torah Trail' that's kick-ass but also wise and full of good ideas for what ails American Judaism. He shows that the greatest reverence can come from irreverence." -- Newsweek
"Rabbi Niles Goldstein, the decorated founder of Greenwich Village's alternative synagogue, The New Shul, considers ['Gonzo Judaism'] a wake-up call for Jews. He hopes that his advice--that Jews should reclaim their rebel roots and adapt their religion to better suit themselves--will appeal to 'the disaffected Jew who feels little connection with Judaism or with Jewish institutional life, and is more comfortable watching The Daily Show than going to services on Friday nights.' Goldstein calls this more of a manifesto: 'It is both my kiss, and my kick in the ass, to the contemporary Jewish community and its leadership.'" -- Kirkus Reviews [Special Issue: Best Religion and Spirituality Books of 2006], November 1, 2006
Goldstein's vision and approach to redefine a practice of Judaism seems like a breath of fresh air in the dusty conventional rabbinic world. Read morePublished on December 12, 2006 by R. Canet
This is an impassioned take modern Judaism, but can serve as a clarion call to those who would wish to rejuvenate their lives. Goldstein is passionate, and humorous. Read morePublished on December 4, 2006 by Kevin Quinley